Struggling to contain the virus
As China struggles to contain a deadly new coronavirus, the Chinese territory of Macau has suffered further blows.
The region has been hit with its own seven confirmed cases of the virus over the last few days. Stocks have also plummeted for casino giants MGM China Holdings Ltd, Sands China Ltd, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, and Wynn Macau due to Chinese New Year celebrations being canceled.
Tourism has dropped by more than 50%
Originating from the Chinese province of Wuhan, the coronavirus has already claimed more than 130 deaths in China. Confirmed cases have been reported as far across the world as America and Germany.
the coronavirus has already claimed more than 130 deaths in China
Last week, tourism chiefs in Macau made the decision to cancel Lunar New Year celebrations in Macau after evidence of a second confirmed case of the virus.
Due to fears over the crisis worsening, Macau Chief Executive Ho lat Seng gave the order to cancel festivities for the Year of the Rat from January 25 onwards. This period is known as Golden Week, as it’s of the biggest weeks for tourism in China.
The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has since said that visits to the territory have almost halved, compared to the success of earlier years.
Seven confirmed cases
The seven people affected are currently in the care of the Government Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre. Previously, the tourists were thought to be staying at hotels including Galaxy Macau, Sands Cotai Central, and the Venetian Macau, although this is yet to be confirmed.
Lei Wai Seng, one of the center’s medical assistants, has said that although their clinical state hasn’t become any worse and that they were relatively low-risk patients, they wouldn’t be going home “anytime soon.”
GGR to take a big hit
While analysts had hoped that the impact on gross gaming revenue (GGR) would be negligible, reports of those infected rising to 1,500 has meant very bad news for gambling companies in the region.
Reuters has reported that arrivals in Macau have dropped by 69%, which has had an impact on share prices. Overnight, MGM China reported losses of 6%. Other operators were also hit with large share falls of more than 4%.
Transport links to the mainland have been curtailed, with flights and ferry services canceled until further notice.
While casinos remain open for now, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng will continue to evaluate the spread of the virus and hasn’t ruled out closing the gambling halls if it continues.